Woman faces charges in fatal Mass. ambulance crash

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 11:05 pm

Woman faces charges in fatal Mass. ambulance crash

Associated Press |


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A driver accused of running a Massachusetts stop sign and causing an ambulance crash that killed a patient is being charged with negligent motor vehicle homicide.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014 11:05 pm.

Five Things You Need to Know Today, November 26

Five Things you Need to Know Today” is a Patch column that provides readers with essential, daily information at a glance.

1. The new week opens in Wilmington with plenty of sunshine. According to Weather.com, temperatures will peak at 46° on Wednesday as the new week kicks off in town. There is a zero percent chance of precipitation on the day and skies will be sunny throughout.

2. With Thanksgiving week in the books, it’s now time to get back to work for the Board of Selectmen. Wilmington’s local board meets at 7 p.m. on Monday inside Town Hall, Room 9. Check back with Wilmington Patch for coverage.

3. The library goes to the dogs on Monday, but for good reason. Wilmington Memorial Library gives local children the chance to read to Mackenzie the Scottie at 5 p.m. Mackenzie is a great listener who loves to have kids of all ages read to him and improve their reading skills. Mackenzie has been certified as a therapy dog by the Pets People Foundation. Call (978) 694-2098 to sign up for a 15-minute session.

4. In case you missed it, we had a pair of police stories on Sunday. We have details about an alleged drunk driving crash that led to the arrest of a Wilmington man, and also provided a few police log updates from last week.

5. Are you a fan of Wilmington Patch on social media? Our total continues to rise and we’re now up to 1,879 Facebook fans. All you have to do to join that following is log onto our Facebook page and click “Like.” We’ve also got 1,254 Twitter followers supporting us, so be sure to follow us there as well. Thanks for the support, Wilmington!

Notre Dame reigns atop college football again

By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) – The postgame roars from Notre Dame’s locker room echoed right through the Coliseum’s thick cement walls and metal beams Saturday night, moving around the 89-year-old arena like a long-absent force of nature.

After decades away, the Fighting Irish are back on top of college football – unmatched in the rankings, unblemished in the standings, and unequivocally ready for a chance to end a 24-year national championship drought.

Manti Te’o, the star linebacker from Hawaii who led this improbable revival season, took a moment to listen to those echoes.

“This is where you want to be when you go to Notre Dame,” he said.

The Irish are No. 1 again – a Golden Dome atop their sport.

Notre Dame (12-0) beat Southern California 22-13 to complete its first unbeaten regular season since 1988. That’s also the last championship year for the school that produced a legion of the sport’s most memorable figures: Knute Rockne, the Four Horsemen, Paul Hornung, Joe Montana – heck, even Rudy Ruettiger.

A no-nonsense win over Notre Dame’s intersectional rivals in Los Angeles capped a year of historic dominance for a defense led by Te’o, its inspirational Heisman contender. That defense allowed just nine touchdowns all season long, capped by four downs of unyielding play while backed up to its goal line by the Trojans in the final minutes.

“You just put the ball down in front of us, and if there’s time on the clock, we’re never going to give up,” defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore said.

These Irish never flinched, either in dire late-game circumstances or under the weight of history that has crushed decades of previous Notre Dame teams. After beginning the year unranked and projected for maybe eight victories by optimistic pundits, the Irish produced a marvelous season of old-fashioned, hard-nosed football amid the wacky spread offenses and garish neon uniforms that seem to dominate the sport these days.

After winning half of their games by nine points or fewer, including two hair-raising escapes in overtime, it’s clear these Irish have something else going for them as well.

“Not saying it was lucky, but luck doesn’t hurt,” said Terry Brennan, who played at Notre Dame in the late 1940s and coached the team from 1954-58. “The point is, they got the break and they took advantage of it. That’s the key.”

The Irish have six weeks to prepare for the BCS title game on Jan. 7, but coach Brian Kelly’s restoration of the Notre Dame mystique could linger much longer.

The Golden Dome atop Notre Dame’s administration building has regained its luster at a school where coaches Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis all failed to restore the program to its most recent glory under Lou Holtz in the late 1980s. All told, Notre Dame lost at least three games every season between 1993 and this fall – not bad, but not good enough to contend for national titles.

Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, a Notre Dame alum, said when he took the job in 2008 he found no reason Fighting Irish football could not be great again.

“I became convinced there weren’t any insurmountable hurdles, institutional hurdles, something in our approach or our system that made it so we could never be this successful again,” he said in a phone interview Sunday.

Just three years after taking over a 6-6 team with ancient expectations annually dwarfed by the modern realities of competing at a Catholic school in frigid northern Indiana with tough academic standards, Kelly has put the Irish back on top.

“One of the things I really wanted in a coach was somebody who … would be a CEO coach,” said Swarbrick, who hired Kelly to replace Weis. “I think what you’re seeing in this third year is the maturation of that staff into a really cohesive unit.”

And though he’s still one win shy of ultimate success, Kelly did it in his third year – the same season in which Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Dan Devine and Holtz all won national titles during their tenures at Notre Dame.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Well, yeah, I’m surprised,’” Kelly said. “But when you go in that locker room and are around the guys I’m around, you’re not surprised. The commitment they’ve made – they’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do. It doesn’t surprise me anymore.”

Thousands of Irish fans turned up at the Coliseum for the regular-season finale, demonstrating the wide reach of Notre Dame’s appeal. The Irish have embraced their status as an international program in recent years, playing everywhere from Yankee Stadium to Dublin, Ireland, while Kelly put the ingredients in place for this season’s success.

Swarbrick acknowledges he expected the Irish to need maybe one more year to contend at an elite level.

“I knew we were much, much better, but frankly I thought the schedule might mask the progress,” he said.

Although Notre Dame’s defense was clearly tough, nobody could have expected such success from an offense now led by the likes of quarterback Everett Golson, who redshirted last year, and tailback Theo Riddick, who was a slot receiver last season.

The Irish were nobody’s favorite, but they’ve ended up on top. The 84-year-old Brennan, who was just 25 when he took over the Irish program in 1954, knows all about the importance of seizing the moment.

“Grab it when you can,” he said. “Next year you might have injuries, and the ball bounces the other way.”

The Irish returned home Sunday knowing they’ve still got a bit of work to do – and if their season to date is any indication, they’re still hungry.

Notre Dame is likely to be an underdog to an opponent from the Southeastern Conference in the BCS title game. The Irish will rely on the experience of their unbeaten season, the history of past champions wearing their uniforms, and the support of untold millions who love what the team once represented – and what it means again.

Te’o, who turns 22 in January, hadn’t been born the last time Notre Dame won a national title. He still knows the date of the last Irish national championship by heart, thanks to the sign at the end of the tunnel at Notre Dame Stadium where he steps on that hallowed field each game day.

“I’m just hoping that we can add our year to it,” Te’o said. “But it’s going to take a lot of work.”

___

AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Benefits fight brings lesbian couple to high court

By LISA LEFF
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Like a lot of newlyweds, Karen Golinski was eager to enjoy the financial fruits of marriage. Within weeks of her wedding, she applied to add her spouse to her employer-sponsored health care plan, a move that would save the couple thousands of dollars a year.

Her ordinarily routine request still is being debated more than four years later, and by the likes of former attorneys general, a slew of senators, the Obama administration and possibly this week, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Because Golinski is married to another woman and works for the U.S. government, her claim for benefits has morphed into a multi-layered legal challenge to a 1996 law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing unions like hers.

The high court has scheduled a closed-door conference for Friday to review Golinski’s case and four others that also seek to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act overwhelmingly approved by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton.

The purpose of the meeting is to decide which, if any, to put on the court’s schedule for arguments next year.

The outcome carries economic and social consequences for gay, lesbian and bisexual couples, who now are unable to access Social Security survivor benefits, file joint income taxes, inherit a deceased spouse’s pension or obtain family health insurance.

The other plaintiffs in the cases pending before the court include the state of Massachusetts, 13 couples and five widows and widowers.

“It’s pretty monumental and it’s an honor,” said Golinski, a staff lawyer for the federal appeals court based in San Francisco who married her partner of 23 years, Amy Cunninghis, during the brief 2008 window when same-sex marriages were legal in California.

The federal trial courts that heard the cases all ruled the act violates the civil rights of legally married gays and lesbians. Two appellate courts agreed, making it highly likely the high court will agree to hear at least one of the appeals, Lambda Legal Executive Director Jon Davidson said.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had an occasion where the Supreme Court has had so many gay rights cases knocking at its door,” said Davidson, whose gay legal advocacy group represents Golinski. “That in and of itself shows how far we’ve come.”

The Supreme Court also is scheduled to discuss Friday whether it should take two more long-simmering cases dealing with relationship recognition for same-sex couples.

One is an appeal of two lower court rulings that struck down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage. The other is a challenge to an Arizona law that made state employees in same-sex relationships ineligible for domestic partner benefits.

The last time the court confronted a gay rights case was in 2010, when the justices voted 5-4 to let stand lower court rulings holding that a California law school could deny recognition to a Christian student group that does not allow gay members.

The time before that was the court’s landmark 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which declared state anti-sodomy laws to be an unconstitutional violation of personal privacy.

Brigham Young University law professor Lynn Wardle, who testified before Congress when lawmakers were considering the Defense of Marriage Act 16 years ago, said he still thinks the law passes constitutional muster.

“Congress has the power to define for itself domestic relationships, including defining relationships for purposes of federal programs,” Wardle said.

At the same time, he said, the gay rights landscape has shifted radically since 1996, citing this month’s election of the first sitting president to declare support for same-sex marriage and four state ballot measures being decided in favor of gay rights activists.

“This is the gay moment, momentum is building,” Wardle said. “The politics are profound, and politics influence what the court does.”

For Golinski and Cunninghis, getting this far has been a long, sometimes frustrating and sometimes heartening journey.

Citing the act, known as DOMA, the Office of Personnel Management, the federal government’s human relations arm, initially denied Golinski’s attempt to enroll Cunninghis in the medical coverage she had selected for herself and the couple’s son, now 10.

“I got a phone call from OPM in Washington, D.C., asking me to confirm that Amy Cunninghis was female, and I said, ‘Yes, she is,’ and they said, ‘We won’t be able to add her to your health plan,” Golinski recalled.

Golinski knew that her employer, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, had a policy prohibiting discrimination against gay workers, so she filed an employee grievance and won a hearing before the court’s dispute resolution officer, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski.

As a lawyer for the court, she felt awkward about pursuing the issue, but she was also angry. Lambda Legal and a San Francisco law firm offered to represent her.

“I had been working for the courts since 1990, and I feel, like everybody, I work hard and I’m a valuable employee, and I’m not getting paid the same amount if I have to pay for a whole separate plan for Amy,” she said. “It was really hurting our family.”

Kozinski ruled that Golinski was entitled to full spousal benefits, but federal officials ordered Golinski’s insurer not to process her application, prompting the chief judge to issue a scathing opinion on her behalf.

After the government refused to budge, Golinski sued in January 2010.

The couple had joked about whether they “would make a federal case” out of their situation. Cunninghis noted that their genders would not have been an issue had Golinski worked in the private sector or in state or local government where domestic partnerships are offered.

Because of DOMA, she said, “we don’t get access to a whole slew of benefits.”

The Department of Justice originally opposed Golinski in court but changed course last year after President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder said they would no longer defend the law.

Republican members of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which oversees legal activities of the House of Representatives, voted to hire an outside lawyer first to back the act in Golinski’s case and the four others, and to then appeal the rulings on its unconstitutionality.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White handed Cunninghis and Golinski an unequivocal victory in February, finding that anti-gay sentiment motivated Congress to pass DOMA.

In ordering the government to allow Golinski to enroll her wife in a family health plan, White rejected all of the House group’s arguments, including that the law was necessary to foster stable unions among men and women.

A group of 10 U.S. senators who voted for DOMA in 1996 have filed a brief with the Supreme Court angrily denouncing the judge’s opinion and urging the high court to overturn it.

“It is one thing for the District Court to conclude that traditional moral views, standing alone, do not justify the enactment of DOMA; it is quite another to find that legislators who hold or express such moral views somehow taint the constitutionality of the statute,” they said.

Former U.S. Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Edwin Meese also weighed in, telling the court that Obama had failed in his duty and set a dangerous precedent by declining to defend DOMA.

As a result of White’s ruling, Cunninghis was allowed in March to be added to Golinski’s health plan.

Golinski so far is the only gay American who has been allowed to begin receiving federal benefits while DOMA remains in effect, a development that could be reversed if the Supreme Court upholds DOMA.

Until then, the couple said they are going to trust that the tide of history is moving toward gay rights.

“It seems so simple to us: just put me on the family health plan,” Cunninghis said. “It’s much bigger than that obviously, yet it isn’t.”

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment:

POWERBALL JACKPOT

No Powerball winner; jackpot goes to record $425M

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Lottery officials say nobody has won the Powerball jackpot and the top prize will now increase to about $425 million for the next drawing, the largest jackpot ever for the game.

Iowa Lottery spokeswoman Mary Neubauer said sales were strong over the holiday week for Saturday’s drawing, which was estimated at $325 million before the numbers were picked. That was the fourth-largest jackpot in the game’s history.

Neubauer says the jackpot for Wednesday’s drawing could go even higher than the estimated $425 million because sales pick up in the days before record drawings.

The previous top Powerball prize was $365 million, won in 2006 by a ConAgra Foods Workers in Lincoln, Neb.

The Powerball numbers for Saturday were 22-32-37-44-50, and the Powerball was 34.

MASSACHUSETTS GAS EXPLOSION

Natural gas explosion damaged 42 buildings

SPRINGFIELD, Mass (AP) — Building inspectors say preliminary investigations show more than 40 buildings were damaged in a natural gas explosion in western Massachusetts that injured 18 people.

A strip club was flattened and a day care center was heavily damaged in the massive blast Friday night in Springfield.

Investigators are trying to figure out what caused the blast that could be heard for miles, left a large hole in the ground where the multistory brick building that housed the strip club once stood and scattered debris over several blocks.

Officials already had evacuated part of the entertainment district after responding to a gas leak and odor reported about an hour before the explosion.

Most of the injured were gas workers, firefighters and police officers.

Authorities have cordoned off the center of the explosion as building inspectors worked to identify unsafe structures. Preliminary reports show the blast damaged 42 buildings housing 115 residential units.

Three buildings were immediately condemned. Officials say 24 others require additional inspections by structural engineers to determine whether they’re safe.

BANGLADESH-FACTORY FIRE

At least 112 dead in fire at Bangladesh garment factory

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Officials say they could pull even more bodies out of a multi-story garment factory in Bangladesh where at least 112 people were killed in a fire that raced through the building.

The blaze broke out at the seven-story factory operated by Tazreen Fashions late Saturday. Officials say that by Sunday morning, firefighters had recovered 100 bodies, and another 12 people who had suffered injuries after jumping from the building to escape the fire later died at hospitals.

Many workers who had taken shelter on the roof of the factory were rescued, but firefighters were unable to save those who were trapped inside. Authorities say there were no emergency exits to the outside.

Bangladesh has some 4,000 garment factories, many without proper safety measures. The country annually earns about $20 billion from exports of garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe.

STATE DEPARTMENT FIRE

Fire breaks out at State Dept., 3 seriously hurt

WASHINGTON (AP) — Authorities say three maintenance workers were seriously injured after a fire broke out at the State Department headquarters in Washington.

D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Lon Walls said the fire broke out at around 11 a.m. Saturday in the ductwork on the 7th floor. Workers were able to put out the fire before firefighters arrived, but three people suffered burns.

Walls said one person suffered life-threatening injuries and two others had serious but non-life-threatening injuries. All three were taken to Washington Hospital Center.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the fire broke out during routine maintenance to a mechanical area of the building. She said the building was briefly evacuated and then reopened.

EGYPT

UPDATE: New rumblings of discontent in Egypt

CAIRO (AP) — Dissent is stirring again in Egypt where the recently elected Islamist president has decreed almost absolute power to himself.

Prominent Egyptian democracy advocate Mohammed ElBaradei (ehl-BEHR’-uh-day) warns of increasing turmoil that could potentially lead to the military stepping in. He calls Egypt’s president the “new Pharoh.”

Critics accuse the Muslim Brotherhood — which has dominated elections the past year — and other Islamists of monopolizing power and doing little to bring real reform.

Opposition groups and government supporters have called for competing rallies on Tuesday, raising the specter of violent clashes reminiscent of the unrest that eventually toppled former president Hosni Mubarak.

The judiciary, which was the main target of President Mohammed Morsi’s edicts, is already pushing back. The country’s highest body of judges called his decrees an “unprecedented assault.” Morsi accuses Mubarak loyalists of seeking to thwart the revolution’s goals.

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS

NEW: Gaza cleric calls violation of Israel truce sinful

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A leading Islamic cleric in the Gaza Strip has ruled it a sin to violate the recent cease-fire between Israel and the Hamas militant group that controls the Palestinian territory.

The fatwa, or religious edict, issued by Suleiman al-Daya late Saturday accords a religious legitimacy to the truce and could justify any act by Gaza’s government to enforce it.

“Honoring the truce, which was sponsored by our Egyptian brethren, is the duty of each and every one of us. Violating it shall constitute a sin,” the fatwa read.

The Wednesday truce put an end to an eight-day Israeli offensive against Gaza militants who fired rockets into Israel. The agreement remains fragile because details beyond the initial cease-fire have not yet been worked out.

PAKISTAN

Bomb in Pakistan kills 2 Shiites, injures 35

Police say a bomb exploded at a Shiite religious procession in northwest Pakistan, killing at least two people and injuring some 35 others.

Police official Javed Khan says the bomb exploded Sunday in the city of Dera Ismail Khan. The city is located near the South Waziristan tribal region where a similar bombing Saturday killed seven and wounded 30.

Shiite Muslims are observing Ashoura, a feast that commemorates the seventh century death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. The Sunni-Shiite schism over the heir to Muhammad dates back to that time, and Sunni extremists often target Shiites mourners during the season.

Pakistan has suspended mobile phone service in major cities during Ashoura to prevent such bombings, which often use cellphones as detonators.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING

Thanksgiving steals sales from Black Friday

UNDATED (AP) — Thanksgiving shopping took a noticeable bite out of Black Friday’s start to the holiday season, as the latest survey found retail sales fell slightly from last year.

Saturday’s report from retail technology company ShopperTrak finds consumers spent $11.2 billion at stores across the U.S. That is down 1.8 percent from last year’s total.

This year’s Friday results may have been tempered by hundreds of thousands of shoppers hitting sales Thursday evening while still full of Thanksgiving dinner. Retailers including Sears, Target and Wal-Mart got their deals rolling as early as 8 p.m. on Turkey Day.

Meanwhile, IBM says online sales rose 17.4 percent on Thanksgiving and 20.7 percent on Black Friday, compared with 2011.

OBAMA

Obama buys books to promote independent shops

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — President Barack Obama made a quick trip to a Virginia bookstore for some Christmas shopping.

The president took his daughters, Sasha and Malia, to One More Page Books in Arlington, Va., on Saturday afternoon.

The White House says Obama was promoting an effort called “small business Saturday” to encourage shoppers to patronize mom-and-pop businesses after Thanksgiving.

At the store, Obama held up his BlackBerry, apparently looking up a book title as he spoke with shop owner Eileen McGervey. He said “preparation” was the key to his shopping.

Obama brushed off a reporter’s question about the looming “fiscal cliff,” saying “we’re doing Christmas shopping.”

The White House says Obama bought 15 children’s books that will be given as Christmas gifts to family members.

T25-NOTRE DAME-USC

No. 1 Notre Dame beats USC 22-13, earns title shot

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Theo Riddick rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown, Kyle Brindza kicked five field goals, and No. 1 Notre Dame secured a spot in the BCS championship game with a 22-13 victory over Southern California on Saturday night.

Everett Golson passed for 217 yards as the Fighting Irish (12-0) completed their first perfect regular season since 1988, earning a trip to Miami on Jan. 7 to play for the storied program’s first national title in 24 years.

Although they did little with flash on an electric night at the Coliseum, the Irish woke up more echoes of past Notre Dame greats with a grinding effort in this dynamic intersectional rivalry with USC (7-5), which has lost three of four.

Notre Dame’s hard-nosed defense appropriately made the decisive stand in the final minutes, keeping USC out of the end zone on four plays from the Irish 1 with 2:33 to play.

Ducks rebound with 48-24 win over Beavers

By ANNE M. PETERSON
AP Sports Writer

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) – After Oregon’s loss to Stanford last weekend, running back Kenjon Barner figured there were three ways for the Ducks to respond in the Civil War against Oregon State.

“You can let it define you, destroy you or strengthen you,” Barner said. “With this team, every loss we’ve taken in the past, it’s strengthened us, made us stronger. Looking back on Stanford, it was a loss. We knew what we had to do to get back on the winning track, and we did it.”

Barner ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns – despite leaving the game for a time with what he called a minor injury – and No. 5 Oregon defeated No. 16 Oregon State 48-24 in the Civil War.

The victory initially kept the Ducks (11-1, 8-1) alive for a spot in the Pac-12 title game, but Stanford defeated UCLA 35-17 later Saturday night to clinch the league’s northern division.

Stanford’s 17-14 overtime victory over the Ducks last Saturday meant that both teams finished the regular season with just one conference loss, but the Cardinal (10-2, 8-1) claimed the head-to-head matchup to advance to the championship game – a rematch with the Bruins – next Friday.

The Civil War ended shortly before the game between Stanford and UCLA started. Barner wasn’t planning to watch it.

“I’m going to enjoy this win, have fun with my family that’s here and find out tomorrow what the situation is,” he said. “I’d rather not watch.”

It was Oregon’s fifth straight victory in the 116-game rivalry series with the Beavers.

While the Civil War is normally the season finale for both teams, Oregon State (8-3, 6-3) will host Nicholls State next Saturday in a matchup that was supposed to open the season but was put off when Hurricane Isaac bore down on the Colonels’ Thibodaux, La., campus.

The Beavers will have to wait to find out where they’re headed for a bowl game, but already their season can be counted a success after they went just 3-9 last year.

Barner appeared to hurt either his abdomen or ribs late in the first half and headed to the locker room. He returned after the break, but much of the work went to De’Anthony Thomas until he returned on a scoring drive that made it 41-17 early in the fourth quarter.

Barner would only describe the injury as minor.

Thomas finished with 122 yards rushing and three scores. Oregon redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota threw for 140 yards and a score, and also ran for 85 yards and a touchdown.

Sean Mannion threw for 311 yards and a late touchdown for the Beavers but was intercepted four times. Storm Woods rushed for 70 yards and two scores.

Mannion started the first four games of the season, throwing seven touchdowns and averaging 339 yards, but injured his left knee and required surgery. Vaz, who hadn’t started since high school, took over and helped the Beavers to win in the next two games, and later became the team’s starter.

But Vaz sprained his left ankle in the final moments of a loss to Stanford two weeks ago, and sat out last Saturday during Oregon State’s 64-14 victory at home over California. Mannion got the nod for the Civil War.

“We have another opponent and we don’t have time to pout and feel sorry for ourselves,” Mannion said. “Nicholls State is going to come in here and try to beat us, and we have to prepare accordingly. I think it will be a good thing because I know everyone is hurting about this one, especially the seniors.

Attendance was 47,249 fans, a Reser Stadium record.

Oregon put the Stanford loss behind them by striking quickly on their first possession with Mariota’s 42-yard keeper. The touchdown drive took just 1:46, but the Ducks’ 2-point try to cap it off failed.

The Beavers took a 7-6 lead on Woods’ 7-yard touchdown run, but the Ducks answered on the next series with Thomas’ 2-yard TD dash. Barner added a 1-yard scoring run before he was hurt.

Stanford held Barner to 66 yards the week before, but he had 141 yards before halftime against the Beavers. With his first 15 yards rushing Saturday, he moved past Derek Loville (1986-89) for second on Oregon’s career rushing list.

Trevor Romaine kicked a 36-yard field goal to narrow it to 20-10 at halftime and the Beavers pulled closer with Woods’ 2-yard scoring run on their first series of the second half.

It was all Ducks the rest of the way. Thomas scored on a 6-yard run to extend Oregon’s lead to 27-17, before the Ducks capitalized on a Beaver fumble that led to Thomas’ 29-yard touchdown run. Barner returned with his 1-yard run and Mariota found B.J. Kelley with a 2-yard touchdown pass.

Mannion hit Micah Hatfield with a 6-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left for the final margin.

While Barner was spending time with his family, Oregon coach Chip Kelly was going to be watching Saturday night to see what happened elsewhere in the Pac-12 and beyond.

“You got to pay attention,” Kelly said. “You got to know if you’re practicing tomorrow.”

Even though the Ducks are missing out on the Pac-12 championship game, there is a good chance that at 11-1 they will be an at-large bid for a BCS bowl game.

The Ducks hold a 60-46-10 advantage in the Civil War which began in 1894 and is the seventh-most contested rivalry in the nation.

It was the fourth time that both teams were ranked for the Civil War. The last was in 2009, when Oregon was No. 7 and Oregon State was No. 13. That game was dubbed the “War of the Roses” because the winner was guaranteed a Rose Bowl berth. Oregon won 37-33.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The MK MVP 2012: Doing South Africa proud

by Jay Clark 
 
 

Having been a keen music “critic” since I hit varsity, I have always been told that I am very opinionated with regards to South African music. My biggest gripe was that it always sounded too South African, and with my musical tastes being very heavily influenced by Australian and American bands, I found little space to get really excited about South African guitar heroes. Added to this the quality of music videos ten years ago were of a standard which made most of us cringe and state that we could do better with a hand held camera and a six pack of Carling Black Label.

I have since matured like a fine cheddar and realised that being young I thought the problem lay with the level of our production and that they should just get their act together.

Although I was “studying” business as my tertiary education, it bemuses me know how little I actually applied it into analysing my musical passions. For you see, the problem is money, who is going to put money into a music video if there is no sound business plan behind it. Where are you going to show it for starters and how is it going to make someone money? It’s a fwa more intricate process than young JHC ever realised.

So last night I was invited to the screening of the MK MVP top 12 music video project 2012, and to be very honest it was a lesson in eating humble pie for Jay H Clark. I was once told that I can’t criticize music unless I could play an instrument, so I learnt guitar (learnt being a very loose and subjective term) and I apply that now to anything I write about, you can’t be critical of things you don’t understand completely.

My reviews of subjects may sound too positive at times, but that is because I am pro-choice, and my choice is to be happy in life and when I see other people trying their hardest to elicit an emotional response in me through their chosen mediums, I find it hard to criticize unless it is really shit. And little effort has been made.  So if you are like me, keep reading, if you’re a hater, haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate.

Rock/Indie/alternative/insert genre here should all thank MK for their initiatives into taking the level of our creative’s to a stage where we have nothing to hide from the rest of the world. The event was held to showcase the musical video collaborative talents of the top 12 entries of production companies paired with South African artists. The organisation of the event was perfect, Cinema Nouveau, beer and amazing snacky foods which consisted of all my favourite snacky foods.

I took my cousin Barry with me as my plus one, a film editor, to get his perspective on the quality of what we were luxuriously viewing. So at least I can sound informed when I say the production value and concepts in these music videos are at an all-time high. Thank you MK for monetising music videos in the South African market to a place where the creative mind aren’t bound by the shackles of mediocrity. This is what stood out for me, go to the MK channel on Youtube and watch them all, work can wait, creative inspirado from your fellow countrymen must not.

1.      aKing – Jezebel (Supra Familias) is as good a song I have heard all year, and the video is a great performance video. Watch it at work to give yourself that quirky smile that makes your boss nervous.

2.      Shortstraw – Waterwork (Mustard Post Productions) really a truly amazing song and touchingly tragic video which suits it perfectly. Perfect concept.

3.      Bicycle Thief – Goodbye Ian Curtis (Motion City Films) amazing cinematography, awesome song and a hot lady with the most androgynously attractive hairstyle ever recorded on film, and she showed some nip in good taste. Kudos to you ma’am.

4.      Die Skynmaagde – Die Kommunis Sokkie (Sound Surgeon CC) – I want what they were drinking, awesome video from a much smaller crew. Funniest video of the eve.

5.      Spoegwolf – Somersetwes (The Suits) My Afrikaans isn’t as good as it should be, but this song can play on my stereo anytime, only problem with that is I won’t be able to see the brilliant video

6. P.H. Fat – Business Business Crash (CAB) brilliant effect throughout the video, some amazingly unique dance moves, truly original in my opinion, which means everything to you or nothing at all.

7.      Jack Parrow  – Afrikaans is dood (Little Big Productions) was an awesome story boarded effort which made me want to punch the next person who uttered something to me in the face, luckily I got another salmon rose and calmed down. Severely energetic.

8.      The Plastics – Best Pretenders (Andover) My Video of the night. This touched my inner child in a purely legal way and the ending gave me goosies. Tip of the cap to all involved.

Watch them all, pick your favourites and share with everyone you know.  Get this stuff out there fellow musics. supporting these initiatives will only benefit us all and the greater good of South African music. Have a good weekend everyone, go watch some videos.

Five Things to Start Your Black Friday: Nov. 23

1. BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING FORECAST:

Friday: Partly sunny. Milder. Highs in the low 50s.

Saturday: Partly cloudy with a 30% chance of rain. Highs in the upper 40s early then temps crash into the upper 30s by night.

Sunday: Cold and sunny. Upper 30s to near 40 for highs.

2. BLACK FRIDAY HISTORY: The term “Black Friday” was coined in the 1960s to mark the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. “Black” refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand, and red ink indicated a loss, and black a profit. Ever since the start of the modern Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been known as the unofficial start to a bustling holiday shopping season.

3. BLACK FRIDAY MYTHS:

  • Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year.

4. BLACK FRIDAY FACTS:

  • Nearly 135 million people shop every year on Black Friday.
  • In 2010, 212 million shoppers spent $39 billion for an average spending amount of $365.34.
  • In 2008, Jtimytai Damour, a Long Island Walmart temporary employee, was trampled to death at Green Acres Shopping Center.

5. BLACK FRIDAY STATS YOU MAY HAVE NOT KNOWN:

  • The National Retail Federation reports that 51.8 percent of U.S. consumers will be doing their holiday shopping online this year, up 5 percent from 2011.
  • According to a survey, 52.9 percent of smartphone owners and 64.1 percent of tablet owners will use their devices to do research and make purchases.
  •  Shop.org forecasts that online holiday spending alone this year will amount to a whopping $92 to $96 billion.

About this column: A few facts, figures and other items to start off your day.

5 Things You Need To Know: Black Friday Edition 2012

Our daily column, 5 Things You Need to Know Today, will help you to get your day started and offer you some fodder for water cooler conversation.

1. Today is Black Friday, considered one of the biggest shopping days of the year. There were lines forming at Best Buy and Toys R Us Thanksgiving Day as early as 8 p.m. Stores didn’t open until 1 a.m. today.

2. If you are shopping at Wal-Mart today you may see some protestors. Employees and non employees may be gathering to protest against low wages, unsafe working conditions and Wal-Mart’s attempts to slice workers’ voices on the job.

3. Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. Patch will post a list, compiled by our readers, of what small business are the best in Framingham.

4. There is a Teen Rock Show at 8 p.m. at Amazing Things Arts Center. Tickets are still available.

5. And just in case any of you missed the football scores from Thanksgiving day. Framingham lost to Natick 26-14 and the Patriots crashes the Jets 49-19 and at one point scored three touchdowns in less than a minute.

Film Briefs

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“PITCH PERFECT” — Cheeky and snarky but with an infectious energy, this comedy set in the world of competing college a cappella groups makes us fall in love with the very thing it’s making fun of. It’s ridiculous and predictable but also just a ton of fun, so you may as well give up and give into your inner musical theater geek. The debut feature from director Jason Moore (Broadway’s “Avenue Q”) and writer Kay Cannon (“30 Rock”), based on the non-fiction book by Mickey Rapkin, feels like a mash-up of “Glee” and “Revenge of the Nerds,” with a soundtrack ranging from David Guetta and Bruno Mars to The Bangles and Simple Minds. Some performances will make you smile; others will give you chills. And speaking of mash-ups, that’s exactly the genre that forces the film’s female singing group out of its comfort zone of conservative choreography and corny vocal arrangements. Their reluctant catalyst is Beca, an antisocial, aspiring DJ played by Anna Kendrick; this is an amusing irony in contrast with Kendrick’s usually sunny, Type-A screen persona, and given her off-screen Broadway musical bona fides. Freshman Beca is part of a rag-tag class of recruits who join the Barden University Bellas, perky young women who dress like flight attendants, adhere to a rigid set of rules and have supersecret, sorority-style rituals. It’s their goal to knock off the school’s rival guy group and win the national championship. An outrageous Rebel Wilson, whose character nicknamed herself “Fat Amy,” gets many of the film’s best lines, while the wonderfully odd Hana Mae Lee steals her share of scenes in her own quiet way. PG-13 for sexual material, language and drug references. 112 minutes. RATING: *** 1⁄2.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“WON’T BACK DOWN” — The focus of this save-our-school drama practically assures it will fail to join the ranks of great, or even good, education tales. The movie takes the story out of the classroom and into the halls of bureaucracy, leaving almost every kid behind to center on two plucky parents battling entrenched administrators and union leaders to turn around a failing school. So essentially, it’s a school board meeting. Or school bored. Despite earnest performances from Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis as a pair of moms leading the fight, the movie lives down to its bland, us-against-them title with a simple-minded assault on the ills of public schools that lumbers along like a math class droning multiplication tables. Director and co-writer Daniel Barnz gets lost in the red tape of education politics as Gyllenhaal’s Jamie and Davis’ Nona take on the suits in a grass-roots move by parents and teachers to seize control of their kids’ abysmal school. And it’s the children who suffer here. Other than some token scenes involving Jamie and Nona’s kids, the students are mere extras in a drama that spends most of its time prattling on about how the children are what matter most. The movie doesn’t exactly practice what it teaches. PG for thematic elements and language. 121 minutes. RATING: ** .

— David Germain, AP Movie Writer

“DREDD 3D” — A wickedly dark comic streak breaks up the vivid violence and relentless bleakness of this 3-D incarnation of the cult-favorite British comic series “2000 A.D.” Karl Urban stars as the stoic Judge Dredd, the baddest bad-ass of them all in a dystopian future where enforcers like him serve as judge, jury and executioner. Dredd is the most fearsome of the judges in the squalid, densely populated Mega City One. For the uninitiated, Dredd is actually much funnier than this description makes him sound; his terse, deadpan responses to the most absurd and depraved situations provoke the biggest laughs. Olivia Thirlby has a calm yet confident presence as the rookie Judge Anderson, who happens to have been assigned to Dredd for training upon one particularly bloody day. Her psychic abilities make her an asset when things get especially chaotic, and her slightly ethereal nature provides a nice complement to Dredd’s intense groundedness. Dredd and Anderson respond to a triple homicide at a 200-story ghetto ruled by the ruthless prostitute-turned-drug-lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). When they take one of her lieutenants (Wood Harris) into custody, Ma-Ma puts the whole place on lockdown and insists she’ll keep it that way until the judges are killed. R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content. 98 minutes. RATING: ***.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“END OF WATCH” — You’ve seen the buddy cop movie a million times before, especially the racially mismatched buddy cop movie. You’ve also seen the found-footage movie a million times before, beginning with the precedent-setting “Blair Witch Project” in 1999 and again in recent years following the success of the low-budget 2007 horror film “Paranormal Activity.” “End of Watch” combines these two approaches: It’s a racially mismatched buddy cop movie in which the cops record their daily activities while on patrol, from mercilessly teasing each other in the squad car between calls to tracking bad guys through the dangerous streets and narrow alleyways of South Central Los Angeles. But admittedly, the found-footage aesthetic infuses the film with both intimacy and vibrancy; it creates the illusion that what we’re watching is unscripted, and so we feel like we don’t know what’s going to happen from one moment to the next. And co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena have such tremendous chemistry with each other, they make you want to ride alongside them all day, despite the many perils in store. As they insistently goof on each other in often hilarious fashion, their banter reveals not just an obvious and believable brotherly bond but also the kind of gallows humor necessary to make the horrors of their profession tolerable. After responding to a series of seemingly random calls successfully, the partners find themselves the targets of a stereotypically vicious Mexican street gang, which may have even more dangerous ties south of the border. R for strong violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language including sexual references and some drug use. 108 minutes. RATING: ***.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“ARBITRAGE” — Greed is good, until it isn’t anymore, in this guilty-pleasure thriller for these tough economic times. In directing his first feature, writer and documentarian Nicholas Jarecki shows great command of tone — a balance of sex, danger and manipulation with some insiderish business talk and a healthy sprinkling of dark humor to break up the tension. His film is well-cast and strongly acted, and while it couldn’t be more relevant, it also recalls the decadence of 1980s Wall Street, shot in 35mm as it is, with a synth-heavy score. “Arbitrage” is a lurid look at a lavish lifestyle that allows us to cluck disapprovingly while still vicariously enjoying its luxurious trappings. Richard Gere stars as billionaire hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller. As he turns 60, Robert would seem to have it all — yet he always wants more, and feels emboldened by the different set of rules and morals that seems to apply in his rarefied world. So he “borrows” $417 million from a fellow tycoon to cover a hole in his portfolio and make his company look as stable as possible as it’s about to be acquired by a bank. And despite the loyalty and support of his smart, beautiful wife (Susan Sarandon), he has a hot (and hot-headed) French mistress on the side (former Victoria’s Secret model Laetitia Casta) who runs in stylish, hard-partying art circles. Both these schemes explode in his face over the course of a few fateful days. Tim Roth, Brit Marling and Nate Parker co-star. R for language, brief violent images and drug use. 100 minutes. RATING: *** (out of ****).

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“THE MASTER” — Viewers hoping for a juicy expose of the supersecretive Church of Scientology might want to adjust their expectations just a tad. Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson has acknowledged that the cult leader of the film’s title — played with great bluster and bravado by Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of his longtime players — was inspired by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. And certain key phrases and ideas that are tenets of the church do show up in the film. And yet, the church — or rather, “The Cause,” as it’s known here — emerges relatively unscathed. Hoffman’s Lancaster Dodd, whom his followers refer to as “Master,” is commanding and calculating and sometimes even cruel, but the bond he forges with a wayward Joaquin Phoenix reveals his inquisitiveness, his generosity of spirit and a love that cannot be defined, teetering as it does between the paternal and the homoerotic. Meanwhile, Phoenix’s character, the troubled, volatile and often inebriated Freddie Quell, seems at his happiest once he’s safely ensconced within the group. But “The Master” isn’t interested in anything so clear-cut as joy vs. misery. It’s about the way people’s lives intersect, if only briefly and perhaps without a satisfying sense of closure. Anderson, long a master himself of technique and tone, has created a startling, stunningly gorgeous film shot in lushly vibrant 65mm, with powerful performances all around and impeccable production design. But it’s also his most ambitious film yet — quite a feat following the sprawling “Magnolia” and the operatic “There Will Be Blood” — in that it’s more impressionistic and less adherent to a tidy three-act structure. R for sexual content, graphic nudity and language. 137 minutes. (Opening today at Capitol Theatre; call 216-651-7295.) RATING: ** 1⁄2.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“THE WORDS” — For a movie about writing, about the transporting nature of a compelling narrative, this is needlessly complicated. It boasts an impressive cast and some glimmers of strong performances, notably from a grizzled Jeremy Irons, whose character sets the film’s many stories-within-stories in motion as a young man. And it kinda-sorta explores the notions of art, fraud and the need to sleep at night. But ultimately, “The Words” seems more interested in melodrama than anything else. “The Words” begins with celebrated writer Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) reading excerpts from his latest best-selling novel to an enraptured crowd. As Clay begins to read, the film flashes to the characters in the book and their story, which is probably where the film should have started all along. Cooper plays Rory Jansen, who also happens to be a celebrated writer appearing before an enraptured crowd. Rory is receiving a prestigious award for his debut novel, the one that made him an instant literary sensation. Trouble is, he didn’t actually write it. PG-13 for brief language. 97 minutes. RATING: ** (out of ****).

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“LAWLESS” — If you can accept the notion that Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke could be brothers during this century or any other, you might be able to immerse yourself in the artfully pulpy allure of “Lawless,” based on the true story of the bootlegging Bondurants. Director John Hillcoat’s ultra-violent drama plays like a hot, sweaty, delusional fever dream and is similarly fitful. It can be visceral and operatic, beautiful and brutal but also slow and overlong. The look and the sound of it are the most effective parts, and the most intrinsically tied: Singer-songwriter Nick Cave wrote the script and co-wrote the score, so there’s a peculiar kind of dark flavor, humor and musicality to the cadence of the dialogue. “Lawless” is based on “The Wettest County in the World,” Matt Bondurant’s fictional tale of his grandfather, Jack, and his brothers. They find their tidy little moonshine operation threatened when a corrupt Chicago lawman named Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) swoops in to shut them down. Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Gary Oldman are underused in supporting roles. R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexuality/nudity. 110 minutes. RATING: ** 1⁄2.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“HIT RUN” — Dax Shepard puts his friends, fiancee Kristen Bell, even his own vehicles to good use in this fun little car-chase comedy that’s quite infectious — the good time clearly had by the filmmakers rubs off on the audience. Screenwriter Shepard, the “Parenthood” co-star who directed the movie with David Palmer, tailors the roles to suit his pals, including Bradley Cooper, Tom Arnold, Kristin Chenoweth and “Parenthood” co-star Joy Bryant. Shepard plays a former getaway driver now in witness protection, who winds up pursued by his old bank robbery gang when he hits the road to get his girlfriend (Bell) to an interview for her dream job in Los Angeles. The result is like a student film made by pros, weirdly idiosyncratic but efficiently paced. Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, graphic nudity, some violence and drug content. 99 minutes. RATING: ** 1⁄2.

— David Germain, AP Movie Writer

“PREMIUM RUSH” — Let’s just be glad Smell-O-Vision never caught on. Thankfully, the musky odor of sweaty bike messengers doesn’t emanate from director David Koepp’s thrill ride, an enjoyable, two-wheeled action film and flashy ode to the subculture of urban couriers. It’s a silly movie predicated on a simple premise, but it’s satisfying B-movie entertainment that moves with the swiftness of a Schwinn — a ride made particularly fun by Michael Shannon’s enthrallingly comic performance as a dirty cop in mad pursuit of a bike messenger’s cargo. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Wilee, a hardened New York City messenger who’s forsaken a promising career in law for the freedom of riding the city’s congested streets. His dispatch (Aasif Mandvi) sends him on a seemingly innocuous delivery that will prove anything but. Rated PG-13 for some violence, intense action sequences and language. 91 minutes. RATING: *** .

— Jake Coyle, Entertainment Writer

“THE ODD LIFE OF TIMOTHY GREEN” — Novelist and filmmaker Peter Hedges, author of “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” strains to Disney-ize the family dysfunction territory he explored so well in those works with this nauseatingly sweet fantasy. Adapting a short story by Ahmet Zappa (son of Frank), writer-director Hedges tries for old-fashioned wholesomeness only to flounder amid a well-intended but sappy tale of a childless couple mystically granted a test run at parenthood. Hedges assembled an impressive cast, led by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton as parents to a mystery boy. The characters are simplistic and artificial, though, behaving in ways that often are insultingly naive and sometimes just plain stupid. It’s a very pretty movie to look at. Beneath the pretty pictures is a silly, shallow stab at Capra-corn, the sort of magical story of simple, genuine people mastered by Frank Capra with such films as “Meet John Doe” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Sadly, the movie’s is all corn, no Capra. PG for mild thematic elements and brief language. 104 minutes. RATING: **.

— David Germain, AP Movie Writer

“PARANORMAN” — So much drawing for such an unworthy script. The labor necessary to create a movie like this is colossal, so it’s tempting to applaud it politely, simply because of the admirable work. No one wants to tell 60 puppet makers that their months of toil were ill spent. But the frequently wondrous and whimsical visuals far surpass the disappointingly slipshod story of an 11-year-old boy named Norman (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) who can see and speak to the dead. “ParaNorman” is from the creators of 2009’s “Coraline,” and bears much of the same fantasy-horror spirit. It also has some of the comic elements of the British studio Aardman Animations (“Wallace and Gromit”); “ParaNorman” is directed by Sam Fell (who co-directed Aardman’s “Flushed Away”) and Chris Butler, who also wrote it. Norman’s uncle (John Goodman) bequeaths to him the duty of pacifying a witch that has haunted their town of Blithe Hollow for 300 years. After failing in the ritual, Norman and an improvised gang (Tucker Albrizzi, Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Alex Borstein) flee from a septet of zombies. The running around town takes up much of the film, robbing “ParaNorman” of pace. PG for scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language. 92 minutes. RATING: ** .

— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

“TOTAL RECALL” — Colin Farrell replaces Arnold Schwarzeneg-ger in the new version of “Total Recall,” and the smug sense of campy meanness that made the original 1990 film feel so muscular and grotesque gives way to a vibe that’s slick, shiny and deadly serious. Seriously, this movie has no sense of humor — there are maybe two jokes, both of which are callbacks to the first movie. Farrell doesn’t get to utter any corny one-liners as he rips off a bad guy’s arms. And maybe this is good, this attempt at reinvention. It certainly makes director Len Wiseman’s film move more energetically and efficiently, at least until the repetitive and overlong ending: a barrage of anonymous automatic gunfire and heavy-duty explosions. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, some sexual content, brief nudity and language. Running time: 116 minutes. RATING: ** 1⁄2 .

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“THE DARK KNIGHT RISES” — Christopher Nolan concludes his Batman trilogy in typically spectacular, ambitious fashion, but the feeling of frustration and disappointment is unshakable. Maybe that was inevitable. Maybe nothing could have met the expectations established by 2008’s “The Dark Knight,” which revolutionized and set the standard for films based on comic books by being both high-minded and crowd-pleasing. With Christian Bale as his tortured superhero starting from 2005’s “Batman Begins,” Nolan has explored the complicated and conflicting motivations of man as well as the possibility of greatness and redemption within society. Here, as director and co-writer, he’s unrelenting in hammering home the dread, the sorrow, the sense of detachment and futility of a city on the brink of collapse with no savior in sight. Gotham is under siege in ways that tonally and visually recall 9⁄11; what is obviously the island of Manhattan gets cut off from the outside world at one point. Rather than seeming exploitative, it’s just one of many examples of the script from Nolan and his usual collaborator, his brother Jonathan, making the franchise feel like a relevant reflection of our times. There’s so much going on here, though, Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language. Running time: 164 minutes. RATING: **.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED” — Ben Stiller’s Alex the lion provides a review so we don’t have to. Halfway into the third animated tale about New York City zoo animals on their overseas adventures, Alex tells some new circus friends that their act was not too entertaining for families “because you were just going through the motions out there.” So, too, for this latest sequel — explosions of action and image so riotously paced that they become narcotic and numbing. The result: A cute story about zoo animals running off to join the circus becomes overwhelmed by a blur of color and animated acrobatics. PG. 1 hour, 32 minutes. RATING: **.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“SAVAGES” — Oliver Stone’s latest is a lurid, pulpy film noir with a sexy, sometimes dreamlike California beach vibe. Directing from a script he co-wrote with Shane Salerno and Don Winslow (based on Winslow’s novel), Stone draws us into this glamorous yet seedy world. Rated R for strong brutal and grisly violence, some graphic sexuality, nudity, drug use and language throughout. 129 minutes. RATING: ***.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

Review: Cotillard stars in raw ‘Rust and Bone’

AP Photo NYET732, NYET733, NYET734

%reldate(2012-11-20T22:53:10 (Eds: Film opens Friday in New York and Dec. 7 in Los Angeles; goes wider in following weeks. With AP Photos.)

By CHRISTY LEMIRE

AP Movie Critic

Merely the premise of “Rust and Bone” sounds uncomfortably maudlin: A wayward single father and part-time fighter falls into an unexpected romance with a beautiful whale trainer who’s just lost both her legs below the knee in a freak accident. Both must undergo drastic transformations that render them as vulnerable as newborn babies. Both are literally and metaphorically broken and must help each other heal.

But it’s the stripped-down way director and co-writer Jacques Audiard tells this story that, for the most part, makes it more compelling than the feel-good plot suggests. With intimate camerawork that explores the lonely corners of his characters’ lives and a prevalent naturalism, Audiard avoids trite, sentimental uplift. This isn’t as powerful as his epic, gripping “A Prophet” from 2009 or as thrilling as 2002’s “Read My Lips.” But it has a quiet intensity and, ultimately, a hard-won sense of optimism.

At its center, “Rust and Bone” features two vivid performances that allow their actors to strip away all traces of vanity. A strikingly de-glammed Marion Cotillard stars as Stephanie, a trainer at Marineland in Antibes in the south of France. One night she goes dancing at a club, gets into a confrontation and leaves disheveled and bloodied.

Her escort home is the club’s bouncer, Ali (up-and-coming Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, who was formidable in last year’s foreign-language Oscar nominee “Bullhead”). He’s recently arrived in town with Sam (Armand Verdure), the 5-year-old, towheaded son he barely knows. Together they’re just surviving, living temporarily with Ali’s sister as he puts together random security jobs and trains to be a mixed-martial arts fighter.

Months later, when a terrifying accident during an orca performance (to the strains of Katy Perry’s strangely unsettling “Firework”) leaves Stephanie a double partial amputee, she finds herself calling Ali, the blunt brute who’d left her his phone number. It’s precisely that unapologetically non-nonsense demeanor that she craves. She doesn’t want to be pitied; she wants to feel like a woman again.

And so they embark on a tricky friends-avec-benefits relationship. Through seamless special effects, Audiard renders these scenes frankly and honestly, with an awkwardness that eventually gives way to animalism. These are people who never would have connected under ordinary circumstances; they end up needing each other desperately. Only in the movies.

Cotillard won the Academy Award for best actress for transforming herself into Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose,” and has embodied a certain romantic femininity in films like “Inception” and “Midnight in Paris.” Unadorned as she is here, her talent and presence feel even more vibrant and accessible. And Schoenaerts is just a force of nature, all masculine magnetism and impulse.

Sure, there’s a show-offiness to this kind of artistic slumming — a self-consciously understated scenery chewing that occurs in a story about damaged people — but that’s certainly preferable to flowery exclamations of hope. Here, the hope is fought for and earned.

“Rust and Bone,” a Sony Pictures Classics release, is rated R for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, some violence and language. In French with English subtitles. Running time: 120 minutes. Three stars out of four.

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